Today, BEIS finally issued its official response to the 2016 consultation. You can access it here. Their public statement about it is here. As for the statement, I don't think I've ever seen as big a pack of lies issuing from a government department. Literally, every single sentence is untrue.
As for the response itself, the first thing to consider is that it was forced on BEIS by the EAC's damning report. The 2016 consultation itself was forced on BEIS by press intervention regarding my whistle-blowing case that highlighted the fact BEIS was, once again, sitting on safety changes for no good reason.
Bottom line of the response? BEIS is not going to implement any of the proposals in the consultation. Instead it is going to take a different course of action that was not in the proposals at all. I'm not sure this is even legal; at the very least it's caused hundreds of stakeholders five years worth of work, waiting, being consulted, responding, having to chase BEIS endlessly via letters, forced meetings, etc – and all to be told at the last minute that none of it counted anyway.
In short, BEIS is dismantling the Regulations and handing over responsibility to manufacturers, combined with getting British Standards to come up with new standards. Which is rather confusing since the response also states that it is doing away with testing standards. To make new ones.
BEIS claims it has been working with British Standards (BSI) on this. But one of my sources there tells me there has been no communication at all with the BSI committee that deals with furniture fire safety standards. BEIS also seems to be totally unaware that it tried the same thing in 2015 – to get BSI to take over responsibility but BSI eventually refused, quite sensibly on the grounds that it did not want to get involved with regulations, especially ones that are so politically sensitive. BEIS may not know this because, believe it or not, it has no files or records from that period. They could of course have found out simply by reading this website, but then their main response in that respect has been to ban BEIS officials from looking at it at all.
Bottom line, consequences wise? Even if BSI agrees to take on this work, a normal, non-contentious standard takes about three years to produce. This however is very contentious so we are looking at 5/6 years before anything emerges. In the meantime, says BEIS, the current regulations will stay in place.
Which means at least another 500,000 tons of toxic flame retardants will get into UK homes and make fires hugely more toxic, thereby continuing to give firefighters above-normal levels of cancer – this from a Department that is apparently committed to reducing flame retardants in furniture.
As I've said before on this site, the fact is that the 2016 consultation was unimplementable. And here I'm going to name the two civil servants who are chiefly responsible for in effect consigning us all to at least 10 years of toxic poisoning in our own homes: Bridget Micklem and Phil Earl. These two went against Ministers' orders to implement the new match test in April 2016. BEIS lawyers advised that this could be done without another consultation. Micklem and Earl, without any input or agreement from Ministers, concocted the 2016 consultation and ensured it could never be implemented by the fact it was incomplete and contained contentious proposals that also had not been cleared by a Minister.
These two are the main culprits for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of UK children contracting cancers and other diseases. They are chiefly responsible for ensuring that firefighters will continue to battle the most toxic house fires in the world. These are the two who have no conscience and answer only to their egos. Not to mention the flame retardant industry's long history of buying up key officials.
Gareth Simkins described the Furniture Regulations to Mary Creagh, Chair of the EAC, when she first asked us about them as "The biggest-ever scandal in UK product history." I think he's right. And the scandal continues.
The head of the Office of Product Safety Standards – the part of BEIS now responsible for these regulations – Graham Russell, said this in a recent interview:
“What motivates me is that this is about protecting people – particularly the most vulnerable people. I think that’s what drives a lot of people in this area.”
Given his response today, this must rank as one of the most hypocritical, sociopathic and downright dishonest statements ever made by a public official.
He is of course, like Micklem and Earl, a public servant who is supposed to serve us, the public. As I recorded in an earlier blog, this is the man who, when I tried to talk to him about these regulations recently, shouted, "I'm not talking to you!" then barged me out of the way as he ran from the room.